A series of explosions rocked Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday killing over 290 people and injuring more than 500. The blasts targeted churches holding Easter services and hotels. Most of the fatalities were Sri Lankan, however officials confirmed that about 35 people killed were from other countries.
There were six initial blasts, at three hotels and three churches, before two more explosions some time later, at a guest house and housing complex.
The initial six blasts occurred between 8:30 am and 9:30 am targeting three churches and three hotels. The churches targeted were St. Anthony’s Shrine, St. Sebastian’s Church and Zion Church. The five star hotels that came under attack was the were the Kingsbury, Shangri-La and Cinnamon Grand Hotels in Colombo.
St. Anthony’s church is the largest Roman Catholic congregation in Sri Lanka’s capital, and twenty-five miles north of Negombo, worshippers filled the St. Sebastian Church. The explosion at these two places killed more than a 150 people, and injured as many.
Thousands of people gathered on the Sunday Morning to celebrate Easter. Since these churches were very popular, it had people from villages and other towns as well attending the Sunday Easter.
Soon when people began to hear about these explosions, news trickled in about explosion in Sri Lanka’s east town of Batticaloa, the Zion Church that killed 27 people.
Around the same time Shangri-La bomber struck at 08:57 am during breakfast in the Table One Restaurant on the hotel’s third floor, which was reportedly full of foreign tourists who made up the bulk of the hotels guest.
A suicide bomber checked in the previous day at the Cinnamon Grand hotel with a fake name, under a false pretense of a business trip. The man carrying a plate at the Taprobane restaurant in the Cinnamon Grand hotel, entered the queue of the packed restaurant’s breakfast buffet detonated with explosives strapped to his back as he was about to be served.
At the same time a third hotel, the Kingsbury, was attacked.
When everyone thought the carnegie was over, the bombers struck around noon at two different locations. A guest house near the National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka, the Tropical Inn Hotel was attacked where two people were killed.
Later, when police began to search houses of suspects involved, a suicide bombing was carried out at a housing complex in in Dematagoda, killing three police officers, a sub-inspector and two constables.
The Sri Lankan Air Force defused an improvised explosive device near the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. The IED found was in the form of a PVC pipe 1.8 metres in length possibly filled with RDX.
Soon after the attacks the government imposed an immediate and indefinite curfew across the entire country and shut down social media services.
The prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, condemned the “cowardly” attacks and urged people to remain “united and strong”. He convened Sri Lanka’s top military officials at an emergency meeting of the national security council.
World leaders including Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, Imran Khan, Theresa May, Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Vladimir Putin condemned the attacks and expressed their sympathies to the victims.
Pope Francis said “I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community, wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence.”
The archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, called it “a very sad day” and urged the government to identify the attackers and “punish them mercilessly because only animals can behave like that”.
No one have claimed responsibility for the attack, however the Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne confirmed that all of the bombers were Sri Lankan citizens associated with National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), a local militant radical Islamist group. He added that foreign links are suspected behind the bombings.
In total seven suicide bombers were involved in the attacks. About 24 people were arrested in connection with a series of bombings until the 22nd of April.
The government said it will declare a nationwide emergency from midnight on Monday following the serial blasts.
Source : Various